Malta footballers’ union dead set against increasing foreign players

‘We need limits on overseas players’ • Malta footballers’ union MFPA says even foreign players are being exploited

MFA president Norman Darmanin Demajo is opposing the proposal
MFA president Norman Darmanin Demajo is opposing the proposal

Malta’s union of football players have come out in full force against a proposal to increase the number of foreign players a premier league club can field to 11.

The Malta Football Players Association said the decision would damage any prospects of investment in Maltese youth football development and have instead called for a limit on overseas players and also a mandatory quota for home-grown club players.

The Premier League Standing Committee of football clubs is proposing that Maltese football teams will be allowed to field up to 11 foreign footballers, from the current seven.

The proposal has been opposed by the Malta Football Players Association, while Malta Football Association president Norman Darmanin Demajo has already said that it “will never see the light of day”.

The Premier League Standing Committee is made up of one representative from each Premier League club. “Darmanin Demajo’s statement is confrontational and we think his opinion is premature and prejudices the discussion to be held inside the Council,” secretary Mario Debono said.

“There was an understanding with all stakeholders for the start of a discussion on the changes in rules, and that no party would express itself in public except in the association’s fora. The MPFA have not honoured this agreement.”

The proposal will require a majority votes inside the MFA council, which includes the clubs from the Premier, First, Second and Third divisions, as well as 12 other member associations.

The MFPA said it was deeply concerned that increasing foreign footballers in Maltese football will affect investments in football nurseries. “Premier League clubs have so far been incentivised to keep a nursery because they need Maltese players on their senior team. This measure will completely remove the club’s incentive to even have a nursery, let alone seriously invest in one. This measure is a short-sighted attempt to get ready-made players.”

The MFPA also said it had received various reports of exploitation of foreign players.

“In one case, the club demanded money from the player to make good on a lost investment. In another case some eight players were crammed in one single apartment. Another player was made to share his bed with different players coming in for trials each week, during the pre-season.

“Last season MFPA helped out over 30 foreign players who had different issues including non-payment, early termination of contracts and accommodation problems.”

The MFPA said that for a serious and professional youth development in Malta, talk of increasing foreigners should stop.

“We should consider having a limit on non-EU players. Discussions should also commence with regards to the possibility of have a number of club home-grown players – players who have trained with the respective club for a number of years irrespective of nationality – within the 18-man squad, so as to encourage the development of youth players and give club-grown players more opportunities to break into the first team. This is being done in the English Championship, League 1 and League 2.

“If we are serious about raising the level of Maltese football, we need to guarantee the supply of future generations of Maltese players with the right level of football foundation, so that they are in a position to compete in the highest division in Malta and abroad.”

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